Back in 2005 I said goodbye to high school and hello to a part of my family I hardly knew outside of quick phone calls and photographs. My brother and his family came out that year for my graduation and ended up staying until almost the end of my freshman year of college. Over that summer I got to know my nephew and two nieces. He was a sweetheart and the girls couldn’t have been more polar opposite. One would never stop talking and the other rarely said a word. Yeah, Kayla was never one for a long conversation and to this day my dad still refers to her as “the one that never talked,” but I knew thanks to posts on Tumblr, she was someone I could talk to about this week’s topic at hand.
Growing up she was fine, but somewhere between going from a tween to a teen – she started to look at herself differently. Looking back at the time in her life, she says this of the turning point, “I guess that was the year that I noticed that other girls started to wear makeup and started to judge others for not being pretty, and I didn’t feel like I was one of the pretty people.” Looking through articles, they say low self-esteem has nothing to do with practicalities, but that’s rarely the case for adolescents. It’s hard to convince a 13-year-old they’re pretty when they’ve already concluded otherwise. Today it’s more about herself as a whole and not just her looks, which usually happens as we get older. Days when she feels dumb or like she can’t do anything right – those are the days that get her down today at 21.
Recently though, Kayla has taken it upon herself to get help. She started opening up more to her family and a therapist and she says it’s helped for the most part. For a girl who could seem mute to an outsider, it’s pretty surprising to me, her aunt – that’d she’s open up at all. Good for her though. In all her current talks, her advice to those dealing with this issue in her own life is this, “One has to realize that other people opinions on them should not matter.”